DIY Home Solar Power Wrap-Up

I have come to the end of my Home DIY guerilla solar power project.  All the panels are installed and operating so here is an overview of the whole project.

There are two separate panel installations.  The first is a pole mounted tracker that follows the sun throughout the day.

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Solar Pole Tracker
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Back side of solar tracker
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Motivator made out of old 12V cordless drill motor.  Enphase M215 micro inverter.
Manual angle adjustment and controller box
Manual angle adjustment and controller box
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Tracker controller circuit board

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The two panels on the tracker are rated at 250 Watts.  Each panel is connected to an Enphase M215 micro inverter converting the DC power directly to 220V AC power that is fed right into the circuit breaker box on the house.

panelsUp on the roof I have four additional 250 watt panels.  Each one is also connected to an Enphase M215 micro inverter.

The panels face west rather than south but that works out pretty good for me.

I built the mounting racks myself using parts from Home Depot.  See them detailed here.

 

Img_0296I noticed the system was using 100 watts of power at night as the inverters were idle to I ordered a 220v timer to turn them on at 8am and off at 8pm.

I had to order it from through eBay from China because there just was no such thing in the United States.

The buttons are all labeled in Chinese but it wasn’t difficult to figure out what each one does.

After going through the timer the circuit connects to a 220V circuit breaker in the breaker box.

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Using a clamp-based remote current sensor I can keep an eye on the power generated by the system as I relax on the couch.

In this picture it is showing 330 watts being generated on a cloudy day.

The power goes up to 1.2 KW in full sun.

This meter is originally designed to show whole house power consumption but it works great for monitoring solar power generation.

JunePowerChartThe meter includes software that allows me to monitor the power generated over time.

The larger bars on the right reflect the additional power generated by the newly installed roof panels.

As you can see, the system makes around 8 KWH of energy each day.  In a month I can expect to make around 240 KHW that I don’t have to pay the power company for.  That’s the best part.  I enjoy sitting here watching the watts roll in.

A good way to put it into perspective for you would be to say that with my Entertainment Center on, Fridge running and pool pump going, my meter still spins backwards a little.

This is a grid-tied system meaning that the power generated flows into the grid, spinning the meter backwards.  If I don’t use the power at home first, the backwards spinning meter makes the grid work like a battery.  I can use the power from the grid later and it evens out.

My meter is an old-fashioned analog spinning-disk meter.  It was not designed for solar power but it works just fine.  I verified that the numbers decrement just as you would expect them to.  My system will NEVER generate more than I use in a month so it will never be to a point where the power company would owe me money. (If I was set up for that.)

The system is easily expandable by adding more panels and inverters but I plan on stopping here.

Solar power is an expensive hobby and not really cost effective if you live somewhere that require large amounts of air conditioning.   If I lived somewhere where the climate was cooler I could totally live off this solar power.

I am glad I put this system together. It was fun and educational in addition to eventual payback.  Solar panels last at least 25+ years so I can expect to get free energy for a long time to come.

 

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2 thoughts on “DIY Home Solar Power Wrap-Up

  1. Adrienne

    That, my dear, is AWESOME. And that doesn’t look like someone who watches too much TV to me 😉

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